Clannad and Hyouka- Comparing first impressions

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Hey, my friend is making me watch Fullmetal Alchemist (which is pretty good, by the way) and this reintroduction to anime (after months of abandonment) has motivated me to reboot my blog. So you can thank my friend for that. My other friend, however, introduced two animes to me over the year. One is Clannad, and the other is Hyouka. She gave me a few episodes, and I found myself laughing and analyzing how similar my first impressions for both animes are. So here it is. The detailed comparison of the first episodes of Clannad and Hyouka. It’ll probably take me forever to finish watching Hyouka and I’ve only watched one season of Clannad, so I won’t try and compare the two animes as a whole.

So first here’s a summary of both animes from MyAnimeList for your reference:

Hyouka:

Synopsis

Oreki Houtarou is minimalistic high school boy. One day, he joins the Classic Literature Club at his elder sister’s request.

There he meets Chitanda Eru, Fukube Satoshi, and Ibara Mayaka. Chitanda is a calm beautiful girl but she turns into an embodiment of curiosity once she says, “I’m interested in it (Watashi, Kininarimasu)”. Fukube is a smiling boy with a fantastic memory who calls himself a database. Ibara is a short girl and is strict with others and herself. She loves Fukube, but he always dodges her approaches.

They begin to investigate a case that occurred 33 years ago. Hints of the mystery are buried in an old collection of works of the former members of Classics Club. The collection is titled “Hyouka.”

Clannad:

Synopsis

Okazaki Tomoya is a delinquent who finds life dull and believes he’ll never amount to anything. Along with his friend Sunohara, he skips school and plans to waste his high school days away.

One day while walking to school, Tomoya passes a young girl muttering quietly to herself. Without warning she exclaims “Anpan!” (a popular Japanese food) which catches Tomoya’s attention. He soon discovers the girl’s name is Furukawa Nagisa and that she exclaims things she likes in order to motivate herself. Nagisa claims they are now friends, but Tomoya walks away passing the encounter off as nothing.

However, Tomoya finds he is noticing Nagisa more and more around school. Eventually he concedes and befriends her. Tomoya learns Nagisa has been held back a year due to a severe illness and that her dream is to revive the school’s drama club. Claiming he has nothing better to do, he decides to help her achieve this goal along with the help of four other girls.

As Tomoya spends more time with the girls, he learns more about them and their problems. As he attempts to help each girl overcome her respective obstacle, he begins to realise life isn’t as dull as he once thought.

[Written by MAL Rewrite]

Obviously these animes are not the same, but you know… really? Wow, it’s this passive dark haired high school boy who doesn’t want to make an effort in life. Meets this cheerful, bubbly and slightly strange girl and gets roped into joining a club. Same in BOTH cases, by the way. (this is why I chose to compare only the first episodes, only so I can make fun of that point, because I’m guessing as the anime develops Hyouka becomes a really Sherlock Holmes-y anime and Clannad is just… Clannad).

CLANNAD- Opening

Clouds. Blue. Dark. A bird’s eye view of the city. Soft, otherworldly vocals in the background.

“Kono machi was kirai da.” (I hate this city.)

The beautiful music from before now immediately becomes more eerie and gloomy. Sights of the town in the same dull, dark blue flashes in front of us. The voiceover continues.

“It’s full of all the memories I want to forget about.”

“Go to school, chat with friends, and then go back to a home I don’t even want to go back to. Will something eventually change, doing this?”

The string instruments are introduced. Cut to Tomoya, our main character, stopping in his steps, exhaling, and then continuing his trek up the slope to school. The voiceover continues.

“Will that day come?”

Hint. Hint. It probably will.

Tomoya is walking quietly through a purple world, the strings continue. Suddenly we see a cut off side view of a girl taking a breath. The music quickly changes to a light piano playing single notes, the melody of Dango Daikazoku. Cut to Tomoya and him up, closer to her. He looks at her sideways. She coughs, then mutters under her breath: “Sweet bean bread!” Tomoya is taken aback.

“Do you like this school?

I really, really love it. But nothing can stay unchanged.”

Tomoya’s voiceover comes back. “A girl I’ve never seen before. The words weren’t directed at me. She was probably talking to someone in her heart.”

“Fun things… happy things… all of it… They can’t all possibly stay unchanged.” It’s the girl again, this time in between her words the purple world flashes in and out of normal color. “Even so, can you keep loving this place?”

Tomoya looks down, then speaks up. “Just find them.”

She starts, and the dark, purple world is suddenly taken over by blinding color, flashes of it, flashing closer and closer until we see see a closeup of her face. The world is now permanently in normal, warm color. Her hair blows in the wind as we pan around her and away, Tomoya is now in the shot. Sakura petals are falling. The camera stops.

“Just find new and happy things.” Tomoya. The girl stares at him. He shrugs. “C’mon, let’s get going.” He begins to walk forward again. The girl follows.

“We start to walk up… the long… the long… uphill climb.”

Fade to white. OP begins.

HYOUKA- Opening

Paired with the crescendo of string instruments, a closeup of a thousand cherry blossoms appears on the screen, with petals floating everywhere and birds chirping in the distance.

CUT

We see a high schoolers walking by a long line of sakura trees, the scene hasn’t changed, but the real focus has appeared. We now see the entrance of the school, kids of the same uniforms entering, the normal chatter and friendly banter, some random guy tackles the other. Normal school stuff. Cuts back to a view above the place where they were all passing to walk to school, the long line of sakura trees. Then a shot of what seems to be a group of people welcoming new students and advertising their clubs. It’s a montage of school life. Here enters the voice of our main character.

“When we talk about high school, we describe it as very rosy. And, all the same, the color of roses reminds us of our time in high school. Japanese society overrates high school, much how it overrates living a rosy life. I doubt all high schoolers want their days to be adorned with roses.”

He walks past the shouting crowds of students raising banners to advertise their clubs in silence, his silhouette dark against their energy and color.

“Academics, sports, and romance all add a little color to your life. But not everyone is interested in them. There could be students who prefer their days to be gray and colorless. I guess that’s a sad way to live, though.”

We are in the classroom now. We see his face up close for the first time.

“I didn’t know you were into self-deprecation.”

The best friend character appears. Much like Sunohara, he’s got a cocky voice and an accent… oh WOW, this is hilarious, Sunohara and Fukube (the best friend) are voiced by the same person.

Fukube begins analyzing all of what Houtaro, the main character, just said.

“You’re cynical about academics, sports, and romance. Basically, a gray person. That describes you, doesn’t it?”

“I wasn’t being cynical.” Denial.

“That’s what you think. You’re all about energy conservation, aren’t you? You’ll never be interested in things that are tedious or a waste of energy. Basically, your motto is…” Shoves his finger in Houtaro’s face. Cut to Houtaro’s surprised face, which turns into a fed up look.

“Don’t bother doing things you don’t have to do, and just rush through things you have to do.” Houtaro states.

“I guess.” Fukube shrugs lightly, agreeing and yet dismissing. “But you know, Houtaro… Kamiyama High is known for its strong tradition of club activity, and you’re not even in a club. Looking at the facts, you’re the definition of gray. You said that was a sad way to live, didn’t you? That’s clearly self-deprecation.” Hint hint. This foreshadows what is to come.

“You never know when to shut up.”

“Why are you saying this now? You’ve known me since middle school.”

Houtaro’s annoyance and refusal to acknowledge Fukube’s theories just confirms for us the fact that all of what Fukube said was true. And Fukube’s analysis provides us a further introduction to Houtaro’s character, and his own relationship with Houtaro.

Houtaro then tells Fukube not to wait for him after school, showing up a slip of folded white paper. Fukube leans in for a closer look, his minimal curiosity turning into incredulousness. “Is that… No way! A sign up sheet? You’re joining a club?!”

We find out that Houtaro is joining at the request of his sister, to keep the club alive. After reading the letter, Fukube reasons the possible pros of joining the club, saying that since no one else is in the club, Houtaro can have the club room all to himself. “Private space”, as he calls it. Houtaro looks interested by this notion.

We cut quickly to team sports, then of Houtaro saluting them inside the hallway as he walks down. His narrative continues. “I don’t look down on active folks. I’m just true to my motto. Don’t bother doing things you don’t have to do, and just rush through things you have to do.”

Houtaro takes a key from the teacher’s office and goes up to his new “club room”. He finds the door is locked, and takes the key out to open it. Entering the classroom, bored and nonchalant, he suddenly sees a long, dark haired girl standing at the window looking out. Her back is to him. We follow Houtaro’s slow, easy footsteps towards her. Closer and closer. She turns. Houtaro stops. They stare at each other for a long time. This moment resembles the one in Clannad when Nagisa notices Tomoya’s presence and they stare at each other.

After a dragged out cutting back and forth between their green and purple eyes, the girl finally smiles. Houtaro is taken aback, like Tomoya when Nagisa mutters: “Sweet Bean bread!”

OP begins.

So. First impressions here, before most people skip the OP and go on to the rest of the episode. Both start with a montage and a voiceover, showing glimpses of their lives. Characters are briefly introduced. In Hyouka more than Clannad, characters are set up and Houtaro’s “motto” is established. A lot is said about his character. The girl appears briefly and dramatically, and we end on her before the OP. In Clannad, the mood of the anime is set up in a more artistic way, and although the voiceover gives a lot of hints, direct and indirect, about Tomoya and his life, no conversations occur between characters and everything is dream-like, until the world is blasted into warm colors and the story starts. Then the OP begins. Certainly, it is clearly established that both Houtaro and Tomoya are high schoolers that are not interested in making an effort in life. Houtaro is more “because I don’t feel like it” and it’s my “motto”. Tomoya, on the other hand, seems to be completely given up on life, and his voiceover hints that it has something to do with his past. Every important character has a sad backstory. It’s a thing in anime. I’m not saying Houtaro doesn’t have a sad backstory; something must have caused him to develop this outlook on life. However, unlike Houtaro, Tomoya’s past and his pains are the main thing in Clannad, how Nagisa sort of “heals” and changes him I guess. The main thing in Hyouka, I’m guessing, is solving mysteries and through that there are always character breakthroughs and developments between their relationships etcetera.

Clannad is certainly more depressing, more deep and philosophical (I guess you could call it), but both animes have the school life, quiet type of feel. Personally, school life animes bore me. Some are alright, bearable, like Hyouka and Clannad, but god I can’t stand Haruhi Suzumiya… It’s always a club, WHYYY?? Is there nothing else to school life?? No other way for a group of people to get together and form a story of unrealistic Japanese school life? They’re both produced by Kyoto Animation. Which is not the reason for the similarities in plot (they were created by different people), but the fact that they share this much plot-wise and production-wise (including voice actors like Sakaguchi Daisuke) is interesting- it really shouldn’t be a surprise, since there are so many similar anime/manga to the point that it’s pointless to have both (especially if they’re by the same mangaka, hello Fushigi Yuugi and Ayashi no Ceres).

P.S. I was going to analyze the entire episode but I was too lazy.

Maria

2 responses »

  1. For Clannad, the entire first series merely sets the stage for After Story. The Clannad experience is hopelessly incomplete until you’ve reached at least episode 18 of AS.

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